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What to Do in Penticton in Winter: A Local’s Guide

Summer days in Penticton are the best kind of difficult. There are simply too many things to do. 

Visitors know it too, with thousands of people heading to the town to swim, hike, float, wine tour, paddle, sunbathe and climb over the warmer months.

As the sun disappears, the crowds disperse. What they miss, however, are all the awesome experiences Penticton has to offer during the winter.

Okanagan Lake view with sunset colours and clear skies. There is snow on the hill opposite
Sunset on Christmas Eve in Penticton

Personally, I think it’s one of the best places to be in Canada in the winter! The weather is mild, the scenery is breathtaking and there’s plenty to do.

Read on for a taste of the top things to do in Penticton in winter, all ideas tried and tested by a local.

Published 2017, updated December 2021. There are affiliate links in this post. If you make a qualifying purchase through one of these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Sicamous paddle boat on snowy Okanagan Lake beach
The S.S. Sicamous after a snowfall

Winter in Penticton: What to Expect

Winter is a bit of a mixed bag in Penticton. Yes, there’s snow, but not a lot.

Thanks to the Okanagan’s reasonably mild winter temperatures and low precipitation, we really only see snow on the ground at lake level from late December (just before Christmas) to early February. And even then, it comes and goes.

Elevated view looking down on Okanagan Lake and the city of Penticton on right. There is snow in the higher hills behind
Looking towards Penticton in early February

This is partly due to wind, which Penticton has a lot of. Sitting between two lakes, the city of Penticton is a bit like a wind tunnel. Wind is actually more of a challenge in winter than snow.

We also get a lot of sun here. The Okanagan Valley has a reputation for cloud cover in winter, but Penticton is actually clearer than most other towns. I believe this is, again, due to the dual lake situation.

Views from the Kettle Valley Rail (KVR) Trail in Penticton, looking towards the marina and downtown area
Walking the Kettle Valley Rail (KVR) Trail in Penticton in January

So it’s very normal to have a dump of snow and it to be blown away or melted by the afternoon or the next day.

In terms of temperature, the thermometer hovers around freezing level during the day in both December and January. February is a couple of degrees warmer. Of course, the wind can make it feel colder.

Having said that, there is usually at least one week long stretch of very cold weather every winter. We’re talking -10° to -15° and even colder with windchill.

Snowy street scene in Penticton with Christmas lights in trees lining road
Downtown Penticton on Christmas Day

Things to do in Penticton in winter

With all that in mind, let’s get on with our recommendations for the best things to do in Penticton in winter!

Go wine tasting

Though the majority of Naramata Bench wineries close up shop after harvest in October, there are still a few that offer tastings year-round.

Run by a lovely down to earth Canadian British couple, Upper Bench Winery and Creamery is one of our top spots to visit for their bold wines and rich cheeses.

If you like bold, French-style soft cheeses, you simply must try the Okanagan Gold.

Upper Bench Winery and Creamery is open daily, which leaves no excuses not to get your winter wine and cheese fix!

In this uncertain time, I would recommend calling the winery first to check their tasting room policies.

Shelf in winery tasting room with lined up Riesling wine bottles
Upper Bench Winery and Creamery Tasting Room and Shop

Follow the BC Ale Trail

For a relatively small town, Penticton’s brewery scene hits well above its weight.

Penticton actually has four, soon to be five, breweries located within just a few downtown blocks of each other.

The best nachos can be found at Cannery Brewing, while Neighbourhood Brewing is a favourite for Mexican fusion. Bad Tattoo specialises in unusual wood fired pizzas, while Slackwater has a bit of everything.

Soon to join the team is Highway 97, which has recently moved to a new location opposite Cannery Brewing.

There are two more breweries at the other end of town as well (Tin Whistle and the Barley Mill), if you want to complete the tour!

Another brewery opening soon is Abandoned Rail Brew Co, located right on the Kettle Valley Rail (KVR) Trail.

Read More: A Local’s Guide to Penticton’s Breweries

Front view of two floored brick Neighbourhood Brewing building in downtown Penticton
Neighbourhood Brewing just opened in downtown Penticton in November 2020

Skate through the trees

A short drive from Penticton into the mountains will bring you to a skating experience like few others.

A world away from any ordinary rink, Apex Ski Resort’s Skating Loop offers a bit of old-fashioned winter magic. The loop route winds through a cathedral of snowy trees for a distance of 1km.

Located close to the main entrance to Apex’s parking lot, a small cabin (perfect for changing shoes) signifies the start of the loop.

Tickets to skate the loop are only $4. It’s definitely a unique experience that is difficult to find elsewhere in British Columbia. 

Back view of two men ice skating on Apex's skating loop, near Penticton, surrounded by forest
Gliding around Apex’s Skating Loop

Go bouldering

While some hardy locals do climb at the world famous Skaha Bluffs all year long, most take a break over the winter months when the rock is too frigid to touch. 

Thanks to the enterprising folks at Hoodoo Adventures, it is also possible to winter climb in Penticton at their climbing gym on Ellis Street.

Small but challenging and fun, the gym happens to be right across the street from Cannery Brewing’s taproom.

I doubt this is a coincidence but it is an unbeatable winter afternoon combination. Hoodoo also put on winter events such as the Santa Rec Run.

Read Next: Complete Skaha Bluffs Climbing Guide

Climbing at Hoodoo Adventures gym in Penticton
JR climbing on a winter weekend in Penticton

Take a hike in Penticton

Snow doesn’t have to mean a hiking break; some of our favourite Penticton hikes are still perfectly accessible in winter.

The Kettle Valley Railway trail, with its easy grades and well packed down pathways, makes for a perfect short winter walk.

Walking along the Okanagan Lake promenade is another of my favourite winter activities, especially when the sun is out. 

When there’s less snow on the ground, we’ll often go to Giant’s Head Mountain in Summerland or G-Spot here in town. The latter offers a 10km loop with excellent views of Penticton and Okanagan Lake.

I swear by Kahtoola Microspikes for winter hiking on snowy trails.

If snowshoeing is more your hiking style in winter, there are opportunities in the local hills (head up Carmi Road) or visit Nickel Plate Nordic Centre near Apex.

Read More: 16 Fast and Fun Hikes in Penticton, British Columbia

Front view of Gemma standing at end of hiking trail, with views of Penticton in background
At the top of the G-Spot Trail in winter

Check out the views from Munson Mountain

Penticton’s most accessible viewpoint is Munson Mountain. It’s also home to the iconic Penticton sign.

Just a short drive from downtown Penticton, Munson Mountain offers beautiful panoramas of Okanagan Lake and downtown Penticton. It’s also possible to see Skaha Lake!

The parking lot is found at the end of Munson Mountain Road, which is a short, narrow winding turnoff from Munson Ave, the main road leading to the Naramata Bench from downtown Penticton.

From the parking lot, it’s only a two minute walk along a flat, paved path to the first viewpoint.

Depending on the amount of snow and ice around, you may feel comfortable to continue up the hill. There are benches and better views as you climb.

City of Penticton surrounded by snowy mountains and lake
View of Penticton, British Columbia, in winter from Munson Mountain

Go skiing

For those needing a winter adrenaline hit, Penticton has a couple of great options.

A hidden gem of BC resorts, Apex is just a 50-minute drive from town. You’ll be welcomed by near non-existent lift lines, challenging runs, plentiful powder and incredible summit views.

If one day just isn’t enough, there are a few different accommodation options to check out, ranging from slopeside hotel-style rooms to cosy lodges with hot tubs. 

A little further away is Baldy Mountain Resort. While Apex already offers a fantastic skiing to lift wait ratio, Baldy is a whole other level. When visiting on weekdays, it is a bit like having your very own ski resort!

The exceptionally friendly welcome, affordable ticket prices, truly local vibe and proliferation of blue runs are the icing on the top of this great ski hill. 

Apex ski hill near Penticton, BC
Apex Ski Resort – a perfect winter destination near Penticton

Looking to book somewhere to stay in Penticton?

Lakeside Villa Inn and Suites – Great value option on Skaha Lake, ideal for walking on the KVR Trail

Penticton Lakeside Resort – Awesome location on Okanagan Lake, very short walk to downtown

Wesbert Winery and Guest Suites – Upscale property on the Naramata Bench, ideal for romantic getaways

Have you been to Penticton in the winter?

Penticton makes for a great weekend away, even in winter! Here are the top things to do on a winter visit to Penticton, British Columbia. offtracktravel.ca
Click here to discover the best winter activities in the beautiful town of Penticton, British Columbia, from climbing to wine tasting! offtracktravel.ca
Click here to discover the best winter activities in the beautiful town of Penticton, British Columbia, from climbing to wine tasting! offtracktravel.ca

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Josée

Saturday 14th of January 2017

Penticton (really the South Okanagan) is beautiful in the winter. Yes, it can be cloudy and windy but you don't need to go south to find a sunshine - just drive up a mountain! Baldy has our heart but there are great things up at Apex and Nickle Plate. Great list :-)

Gemma

Tuesday 17th of January 2017

So true - we were at Baldy just this last Sunday, soaking up the sun while the Valley remained in cloud! Thanks for your comment Josée, I am loving your instagram feed right now!